Traditional Cuisine of Lucca - and no Tourists!...(besides us)
We were hustled over to a table at the front. The wine had anticipated us; a carafe of red was already on the table. "Va bene rosso?"
"Certo!" we exclaimed in unison. We knew what we wanted. Besides the wine, I mean. Zuppa. Hot, steaming soup. After a little give and take with the waitress, two orders of Minestra di Farro Lucchese showed up. Spelt soup. I'm glad I didn't have to do the spelling, but it really was thick, hot and delicious. Martha's Zuppa alla Frantiana, an even thicker vegetable soup thickened with bread, was a warming treat as well. Cost? 4.80 Euros for a huge bowl.
The Main Courses at Trattoria da Leo
But hold on a minute. I'm not talking haut cuisine here. We've got stuff like Pollo Fritto con Verdure Miste Fritte, fried chicken with fried vegetables, or the more typical Cotechino con Fagioli all'Uccelletto, a fat, boiled sausage with white beans in tomato sauce. Hearty country food, in other words.
The scaloppine with Chianti and pine nuts was about as fancy as it gets, and the dish was quite good. Not as good as my Cotechino, but it would certainly do, especially for 8.80 Euros.
In Italy, the vegetables are often served on the side. Called Contorni, they're the "contour" between meat and whatever comes after. Trattoria da Leo had some interesting choices. We had Beet Greens with Chili Peppers, Cipolline al Forno (little roasted onions) and Finocchi alla Parmigiana, fennel with Parmigiano cheese. Each was 2.80 Euros. Each was fantastic.
The house wine was decent, the price better: 3.40 Euros a half liter. A bottle of the good stuff from the Colline Lucchese, would have set us back 10 Euros or so.
Remember when comparing prices that in Italy, the price is pretty much the final price; tax and service are included.
Trattoria da Leo - The Bottom Line
Trattoria da Leo has a little place outside for summer dining. It's small, so you might want to come early or reserve. I really liked the place, and would return again in an instant.
Trattoria da Leo
Vea Tegrimi, 1
(To see the picture of da Leo's outdoor eating area larger, see Wanderer's Eye: Lucca Street Scene.)